Eccleston Reveals Why He Left “Doctor Who”

Five years ago, actor Christopher Eccleston created waves in the “Doctor Who” community when he decided to leave the revived series after just one season in the role.

In that time, fans have speculated as to why Eccleston left the iconic Time Lord role, but everyone associated with the show has been tight-lipped about the decision for Eccleston’s departure.

But now Eccleston is looking to set the record straight on why he left.

The actor says he was proud of the work he did on the show, but he “wasn’t comfortable working on it.”

“I think it’s more important to be your own man than be successful, so I left,” he tells BBC News.

“I was open-minded but I decided after my experience on the first series that I didn’t want to do any more,” he said.

“I didn’t enjoy the environment and the culture that we, the cast and crew, had to work in,” he continues. “I thought if I stay in this job, I’m going to have to blind myself to certain things that I thought were wrong.”

But the 46-year-old said the fact that he played the Doctor – and not that he had quit – was “the most important thing”.

“I really feel that because it kind of broke the mold and it helped to reinvent it. I’m very proud of it,” he adds.


  1. says

    I would really have loved at least one more season with Eccleston, but I respect his decision.

    However, if he would come back to do a new “multiple Doctors” episode, that would be awesome. :)

  2. TallGrrl says

    I wonder if it had anything to do with the television production work experience.
    When you work on episodic TV, time is money in a very real way.
    It’s fast, and as an actor, you have to get used to not having the luxury of doing multiples of multiples of takes just because you don’t feel like you “got it”.
    You do it, and if the director likes it, you move on. You may get another go or two at it, but that’s it.
    Eccleston is a fine actor and I’d’ve loved to have seen him do another season, but c’est la vie.
    His season was ‘fantastic!’ and I enjoyed his villianous turn in GI Joe as well.
    Whatever he’s in, I enjoy watching him.

  3. the lows says

    Well it’s not for everyone, and let’s face it; if they take off in the role they will always be typed cast. Look at Tennat, who is a great actor; but what he is doing to distance himself now. Would like to Eccleston in other roles, he would make, perhaps a good Bond? Just a thought.


  4. Robin says

    Huh. I thought Eccleston and the production team were pretty candid about his leaving at the time, but if they feel the need to clarify that’s fine. Having seen his interview on Top Gear, I’m not at all surprised that he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the demands of television filming and the fame that comes with being The Doctor. Still, he did a magnificent job with the role while he played it.

  5. Hilsto says

    He seemed to have given 100% for the time he was on the show and then he quit. Nothing wrong with that. I’d love to have gotten more seasons with him, but tv filming isn’t for everyone. It would be great if we could do The Four Doctors or something and get Eight – Eleven on screen together. Ok, so I am just desperate to get Eight back on screen.

  6. JoshEnglsh says

    I had always heard conflicting rumors, but he did mention in an interview that the Doctor was such a different kind of role from his normal dour and serious roles. I truly enjoyed him Doctor, and as he was my introduction to Dr. Who, Tennant has become second place in my heart. Maybe third. We’ll have to see how Smith handles the rest of season five.

  7. Christiana says

    i loved Eccleston. i wish he would of stayed im not sure if i can watch the rest of the seasons with out him. its just not the same.

  8. Knot Knight says

    @Christiana I know what you mean. I thought I couldn’t watch anymore after he was gone, but I gotta say, Tennant does a wonderful job. Eccleston is my favorite, hands down, but he’s not the only one.
    And so my Doctor Who marathon continues!

  9. says

    Not to be the “downer” here, but I’m constantly amazed at people who rave at Eccleston’s performance.

    I had the privilege of seeing the re-booted series before it officially aired here in the US, and I (along with my podcast co-host (shameless plug)) immediately didn’t like him. As for me, I found Eccleston to be far too depressed, his dress standard was far too tame (look at past Doctor’s to see that they have ALWAYS dressed strangely), he did little but whine a lot and ALMOST NEVER actually solved anything. It was usually Rose who did what was needed to take care of what needed to be done.

    Eccleston’s Doctor was the most ineffective of all of them and I was thrilled when he decided to leave and Tenant took the role. Not only did he come across as more “whimsical” than Eccleston, but the writing took a definitive turn and started producing better stories and lines for Tenant’s Doctor to bring out that eccentric characteristic which is a key personality component to the Doctor, regardless of which incarnation you are watching.

  10. alyce says

    One thing. Christopher talks about his views of the doctor. He said that he wanted it to be different, with more emphasis placed on the companions being able to aptly help rather than just the Doctor rushing in and saving the day. His seeming depression also added a layer. I think he was also trying to show what the Doctor would be like knowing he is the only time lord left in the universe.

  11. k9 says

    I agree Ben, CE was not that good. I was happy with him but when DT took over I was very happy. He is saying he is setting the reocrd straight but all he mentions above is vague- What was the environment or the culture that he was not happy with? Being his own man, again what does this mean he was a woman on DR Who? Ridiculous- he could not handle it. OH well, he made a good start but I for one do not miss him.

    • Kitty says

      I wonder whether he observed some sexism on the set that he wasn’t comfortable with. It’s a great show, but in that first season, he does rescue Rose a lot. Of course, she has a brilliant moment at the end of the season. But if that script reflects the attitudes of the producers and directors, it might have been a sexist environment. I read that he did not like the “politics.” Then someone above here said something about him not wanting to always be the rescuer. It’s possible that he is as advanced a person as Dr. Who is supposed to be.

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